A Woman's Voice

Book Reviews ~ I’m Not Perfect And It’s Okay

“I’m Not Perfect and It’s Okay” by Dolores Ayotte feels like an intimate conversation with a wise friend over a cup of tea. Her informal style, her kind sense of humor, her practical advice, and a light-hearted attitude to life (despite or, perhaps, because of her own struggles with depression earlier in life) make this book especially appealing.

Unlike many self-help books who promise instant solutions to our complicated problems but never deliver, this book is very realistic. Right in the first chapter, Dolores Ayotte quotes Tolstoy (one of my favorite writers!) and tells the readers that “it is easier to produce ten volumes on philosophical writing than to put one principle in practice.” That point alone made this book and all the advice in it so much more credible to me. There are no easy solutions and, as Dolores writes, “it takes a lifetime to master the art of living wisely, and it must be learned one step at a time.”

What follows in the thirteen chapters, the baker’s dozen, are just that: specific steps we can all take to improve our lives. Some of my favorite suggestions are these ones:

1. “Learn to love yourself as you are.” – The reason this advice is especially appealing to me because I work with a lot of college-age and adult students who seem to never have learned that principle, and who tend to be overly critical of themselves. While I am not an advocate of praise for the sake of praise (and neither is Dolores Ayotte, not at all!), accepting ourselves for who we are is the only way to move forward in life and to succeed.

2. “Take time to listen to the simple genius and the gentle philosopher that lives within you.” – In this chapter, like in many others, Dolores uses personal stories to illustrate her advice. I believe that stories are one of the best ways for us to learn from someone else’s experience because they allow us to vicariously experience life events. The story that spoke to me in this chapter is that about a teacher who decided to use the theme of simplicity for a school celebration and forego all decorations, choosing instead to focus on human connections and the celebration of the moment. What a wise idea. I’ve seen too many of my friends ruin their wedding day, family Christmas celebrations, or other important events because their napkins did not match the flowers or the color of the walls did not go with the wrapping paper. If only they had followed this simplicity principle and focused on the meaning of the occasion, they would have been much more content and much happier, enjoying the moment, instead of worrying about irrelevant details.

As I write this review, I’m realizing that I enjoyed all the advice so much that I may end up listing all the points here as my favorite, and that would spoil the experience for other readers. So, instead, I will comment on something else. This book is written from a strong Christian perspective but it is written from the heart and it is not intended only for the readers of the same faith. It is not judgmental and not dogmatic. No matter what your faith is, you will enjoy this book and benefit from it. I know I did. On a more personal note to Dolores: that turkey stuffing experience was hilarious and eerily familiar, but I’m not going to explain why right here to avoid embarrassing a certain member of my own family. Thank you for this wonderful book!

By Author Julia Gousseva


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